Tory grandee Chris Patten has insisted that Margaret Thatcher would have been “horrified” by the Theresa May’s Brexit deal as he backed calls for a second referendum on EU withdrawal.
The former Tory party chairman and ex-Cabinet minister said Margaret Thatcher would have been against Theresa May’s plans because they hand too much power over to the remaining 27 EU states.
Lord Patten said: “I think Margaret Thatcher (pictured below) would have been horrified at the idea that we should negotiate things that are really going to matter to our future in circumstances in which 27 EU member states each have a right to veto what we want to do.
“Because from the end of March onwards, if we go out on Mrs May’s terms every member state has a veto on what we want. At the moment, things have to be decided by a qualified majority, but after the end of March it’s a vote for everybody.”
Lord Patten said he had reluctantly come to the conclusion that a new referendum was the only way to end the Brexit “shambles”.
He said: “I’ve travelled quite a long way because I have never voted for a referendum in the past, but I think it is probably now the only way out of this terrible shambles.”
The comments came after Lord Patten spoke at an event organised by the People’s Vote campaign for a second referendum, where he urged MPs to reject Mrs May’s deal when it comes before the Commons next Tuesday.
Lord Patten compared Mrs May to Dr Strangelove, the scientist in Stanley Kubrick’s Cold War satire about nuclear destruction.
He dismissed Mrs May’s warning that rejecting her deal could lead to the UK crashing out of the EU without an agreement.
He said: “I don’t believe that the Prime Minister or many members of her Cabinet think that this would be remotely responsible. It would be very damaging.
“These are similar to the tactics made famous by Dr Strangelove: if you threaten that something crazy will happen, your opponents will back down.”
Describing Brexit as an “act of self harm”, Lord Patten took a swipe at Liam Fox as he branded the International Trade Secretary “impertinent and offensive”.
Lord Patten said: “Dr Fox said… ‘it’s a sad fact that there are a number of people who would rather see Britain fail than Brexit succeed’.
“I think that’s impertinent and offensive. I think it’s a sad fact that delusion and even mendacity have got us into this position.”
Former universities minister Sam Gyimah, who quit his Government post last November in opposition to Mrs May’s Brexit proposals, said the PM’s deal deserved to be defeated.
He told the People’s Vote event: “Make no mistake, Britain is on the brink. It is no exaggeration to say we face the greatest constitutional political crisis we have had in peace time.
“This is not in response to any external threat or challenge. The tragedy is that we have done this to ourselves.”